Steven Kellogg’s Illustrations in Jack and the Beanstalk Possess Extraordinary Texture and Dimension

Though his text remains true to the popular version of this English fairy tale, Kellogg’s ( Paul Bunyan ; Pecos Bill ) typically antic art gives this rendition a visual dimension that is uniquely his. Created with colored inks, watercolors and acrylics, the full-page illustrations have extraordinary texture and dimension. With a mouthful of pointy teeth and warts covering his scaly green face, Kellogg’s villain is a truly horrid fellow who may in fact be a wee bit scary for fainthearted little ones–it’s easy to believe that this giant eats little boys for breakfast. Slightly less menacing (though hardly comely) is his wife, who wears a necklace of tiny skeletons and hides Jack from her hungry husband. The pictures’ variegated gold and bronze hues effectively cast an ominous glow over the ogre’s palace. The art also features diverting details that youngsters may miss the first time around, which is one of many good reasons to read this book more than once.

The thoughts above, from Publisher’s Weekly, 9780688152819_p0_v1_s260x420speak of Jack and the Beanstalk by  Steven Kellogg.

Generations of children have loved the tale of lazy Jack and his poor mother, their cow, Milky-White, the five magic beans, the hen that lays golden eggs, and the fearful ogre who roars “Fee-fi-fo-fum!” Now Steven Kellogg brings this irresistible story to life with all the zest and energy that are his trademarks. As he did with tall tales such as “Paul Bunyan,” Kellogg creates an unforgettable world that readers will want to return to again and again. Join young Jack as he climbs a giant beanstalk to a magic castle in the clouds. Meet a hen that lays golden eggs and a harp that sings by itself. And don’t forget the ogre. A classic fairy tale with a vigorous look that will leave you chanting “Fee-fi-fo-fum!”

Kellogg’s traditional tale interpretations are among the best and they posess his characteristic wonderful, whimsical quality. His pictures take on the old-time feel of classic tales and seem to magically glow.  “Moved by the simplicity, the subtleties, and the poignance of the writing in this story, ” this cherished illustrator welcomed the opportunity to reillustrate the tale in full color.

School Library Journal said that Kellogg has streamlined Joseph Jacobs’s version of the classic story, keeping much of its vigorous language. “In the illustrations he has provided a story within a story. On the front endpapers, the ogre steals the gold, harp, and hen from pirates as a wizard floating by in a hot-air balloon watches; this has the effect of enlightening readers about some of the moral ambiguities of the story,” SLJ said. “The wizard is shown writing down the actual events that follow and provides Jack with the beans that set them all in motion. Kellogg’s riotous, swirling pen is perfect for the energy of the tale; this is not the neat, contained English countryside of some previous editions.”

The ogre is toothy, warty, and a rather putrid yellow-green. His wife breaks the mold as well; she is tall and slim, fond of lipstick, and adorned in a necklace of skeletal shrunken heads. Colored inks, watercolors and acrylics throughout are similar in palette to Kellogg’s recent work–lots of orange, yellow, and green–at times bordering on the garish. There are many humorous touches to delight children, who will also be happy to see Pinkerton accompanying the princess’s entourage. Jack himself is irresistible. While many single-volume illustrated fairy tales have oversaturated the market, there should be plenty of room for this author/artist’s extremely satisfying Jack and the Beanstalk.

Steven Kellogg was “moved by the simplicity, the subtleties, and the poignance of the writing in this story.” He welcomed the opportunity to reillustrate it in full color. Mr. Kellogg is an award-winning author and illustrator who has created more than 100 children’s books, including The Three Little Pigs, Paul Bunyan, Johnny Appleseed, and Sally Ann Thunder Ann Whirlwind Crockett. He is the illustrator of Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town and The Baby Beebee Bird. Mr. Kellogg is a recipient of the David McCord Citation and the Regina Medal for his distinguished contribution to children’s literature.

I read this book to my children and they asked  for it again and again. What a pleasure it is to see them cover their eyes and ears at the scary moments … they are frightened, but smiling from ear to ear.

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